Quick. Name every blue food you can think of. No. Otter Pops don’t count.
Blueberries. That’s about it, isn’t it? And they’re more of a purplish anyway.
But hey, you want to know:
“How to properly freeze blueberries?”
The Blueberry Conundrum
Because blueberries are so versatile in the breakfast and dessert realms, and because they offer so many health benefits, they are used in a lot of different ways. But they are only in season 4 months out of the year.
If you want to enjoy this fruit in all of its glorious flavors and reap the benefits of all of its healing powers, you’ll have to buy it in large quantities. And find a way to make them last throughout the year. This is done by freezing.
History Of The Blueberry
It was not until relatively recently that we were able to figure out how to harvest the blueberry crop. In fact, up until the 1900s, you could only enjoy the sweet flavor of these berries by finding them in the wild.
They are a plant native to the North Americas and readily grow in 38 states, although ten states make up around 98 percent of the commercial product in the US.
Blueberries were first revered by American Indians for their health benefits. Now everyone seems to be coming around to how awesome they are.
It is amazing to me that science and studies have only recently told us all the great things some foods can do for us. But somehow, ancient humans were able to harness the power of these exact foods.
The Blueberry Plant
With all the health benefits of blueberries, combined with the mellow sweet/tart taste, it is easy to see why so many delicious recipes include blueberries.
From muffins to pies, jellies to smoothies, crepes to pancakes, blueberries add something truly special to everything they show up in. What’s a blueberry muffin without blueberries? Nothing but a boring old muffin.
Are Frozen Blueberries Good For You?
Yes, as surprising as this may sound, they are healthier for you compared to fresh blueberries. Recent research has shown that freezing your blueberries can unlock even more of their nutritional value.
The reason for this is that freezing blueberries forms ice crystals that disrupt the structure of the blueberry and make the antioxidants found in them more accessible.
If you let them sit in the refrigerator for a couple of days, you’ll have lower Vitamin content. This has to do with a process known as respiration, where berries burn their nutrients to stay alive.
While the fiber and proteins remain the same, frozen blueberries are richer in antioxidants and vitamin C than fresh berries.
You’ve no doubt heard blueberries come with a whole host of health benefits. Studies have shown that increased consumption may reduce the risks of diabetes and heart disease while simultaneously promoting healthy skin and hair.
The Magic of Freezing
What is even more intriguing is that recent research has shown that freezing your blueberries can unlock even more of their nutritional value. The reason for this is freezing blueberries forms ice crystals that disrupt the structure of the blueberry and make the antioxidants found in them more accessible.
This is excellent news for those who have already purchased this superfood several pounds at a time. Not only are you getting the great taste and nutritional value of fresh berries, but it is possible that you are unlocking a hidden potential when freezing them.
Of course, when you do finally decide to freeze these delicious fruits, you want to make you do it the correct way, otherwise, you will end up with bland, uninspiring, soft and entirely unappetizing fruit that you will quickly throw in the trash.
When freezing your blueberries, if you follow a few simple steps, you’ll get a maximum amount of shelf life.
Choose blueberries that are in good condition. Turn the package over (if it’s a clear container) and look for berries that have bled juice, or worse, started growing fuzz.
Look for firm, round, not-juicy berries with a nice dusting of whitish haze. This is the “bloom”, a wild yeast that I find helps keep the berries fresh.
Or perhaps when they are fresh, they have more bloom. I don’t know. I just know if they’ve got a good bloom, they tend to be good.
Rinse them clean. You don’t have to go and give them a full wash (you can do that when it’s time to use them).
Place them on a baking sheet in a single layer. This is crucial to the quality of your soon-to-be frozen berries.
If you allow them to freeze on top of each other, you are going to get a mushy mess of clumped-up berries, which will most likely ruin whatever you had planned for the berry.
The final step is to freeze them. Once they have frozen, you can then put them in freezer bags or containers, so you can use them whenever you want.
Now that you have individually frozen blueberries, you will be able to enjoy them throughout the entire year, even when the blueberry season has long since passed. This method of freezing blueberries will allow them to last around 8 months, and honestly, I find I can use them at least a couple of months after that.
How To Freeze Dry Blueberries
Freeze drying is an amazing way to keep Blueberries fresh for a long time and get the most out of them. You can use a food dryer to dehydrate them.
While you can freeze dry whole Blueberries, it’s better to cut them in half, so the membrane doesn’t get in the way. You can dry and freeze them on a baking tray to reduce the time it takes for them to freeze dry.
Place the fruit on the freeze dryer trays but spread them out to ensure they don’t exceed the height of the tray. Depending on your dryer, it can take anywhere from 16 to 24 hours but keep checking back now and then.
If you don’t have a freeze dryer, you can use your deep freezer to carry out this task. Place your berries on a baking tray and put them in your freezer for 2 to 3 weeks or until they’re completely dry. Then, you can put them in a vacuum-sealed bag and store them in the freezer.
You can also rehydrate the berries if you want. Simply take 1 part berries and 3 parts water in a bowl and wait 20-30 minutes for them to rehydrate. Drain and use them once they’re done.
Best Containers For Freezing Blueberries
The best containers for freezing Blueberries are airtight ones. These will prevent freezer burn from exposure to freezer air. They will also stay fresh for longer.
If you don’t have an airtight container at home, you can always use a freezer bag, as both will give you the same results.
Tips for freezing berries
After you freeze blueberries. place them inside an air-tight container. Some devices remove all the air from freezer bags and seal them for you, creating a vacuum, so your berries last longer and don’t get freezer burn.
- One great way to sweeten your berries is to sprinkle a little bit of sugar on them before freezing them. This adds some additional sugary goodness to your berries and is great for putting in grits or oatmeal.
- When pulling them out of the freezer, allow for about an hour of defrosting time. When defrosting, place them in a bowl so you can catch the juices. Don’t throw away the juice! It is a great addition to pancake syrup. Or snow cones!
- Make sure your blueberries are completely defrosted before putting them to use.
Uses for Frozen Berries
When purchasing foods in bulk (especially fresh produce), it can be difficult to make sure you use all of them before their expiration date. Nobody wants to eat blueberries in literally every single dish, and freezing them lets you prolong their lifespan so that you can use them over a longer period of time.
Try using them in smoothies. Blueberries are terrific antioxidants; the vitamin C and vitamin A in them help to reduce the risk of cancer, inhibit tumor growth, and slow down inflammation.
Taking these in your daily smoothies not only adds sweetness to your drink but keeps you in optimal shape. Plus, they make every smoothie they’re in turn purple — no matter how much kale you have in there.
Mason jars for smoothies? I found the best ones.
How To Defrost Blueberries
To defrost Blueberries, put them in a large bowl along with cold water. If you’re defrosting 1 cup of berries, this will take about five minutes. Remember never to defrost them in a microwave because you’ll end up with soggy fruit.
Additional Health Benefits of Blueberries
Blueberries also are great for improving mental health. They have properties in them that promote brain development in children. In adults, it has been shown to reduce the risks of degenerative brain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.
Berries also promote healthy digestion. Since becoming an adult, I have had to watch my eating habits, and one thing that I have noticed is that the foods I ingest directly affect my body’s waste removal capabilities. The fiber content found in blueberries helps your body maintain a healthy digestive tract.
Blueberries also have properties that fight the aging process, helping to keep wrinkles at bay. Upon learning this, I immediately upped my blueberry intake to no less than one cup per day.
Collagen (the support system for your skin) is reliant on vitamin C as the nutrient to prevent damage to our skin due to outside sources like the sun. Because vitamin C is abundant in blueberries, they are a great tool for fighting wrinkles.
Do you wash blueberries before freezing?
It’s better to freeze them without rinsing. I usually wash them once I’ve taken them out of the freezer.
Any moisture in your berries will cause them to clump together. If you still want to wash them, you must dry them before freezing them.
How do you flash freeze fresh blueberries?
Place your blueberries on a tray with a cookie sheet and spread them out, so they form a single layer.
Make sure they’re not touching because it’s better if they freeze individually. You can pop the tray in the freezer for 30 minutes before putting the berries in a vacuum-sealed bag.
How to remove air from a Ziploc bag to freeze blueberries?
It’s best to use a food-saver to do the job, but if you don’t have one, you can put the berries in a Ziploc bag and place a straw inside.
Close the bag so that the air can’t escape from anywhere except the straw. Then you can manually remove air by sucking it out.
How Long Are Frozen Blueberries Good For?
This depends on the method you’re using to freeze them. If you are storing them in a mason jar, the Blueberries will last for 3 to 5 months.
In a vacuum-sealed bag, they will last for up to 8 months. If you have chosen to freeze-dry them, they will stay fresh for a year.
Can You Eat Frozen Blueberries?
Yes! Unlike vegetables, frozen fruit doesn’t require cooking before consumption. This means you can eat Blueberries straight out of the freezer!
Unthawed berries are great for use in cake batters or smoothies. They are easier to blend since the skin doesn’t get in the way.
Besides, they’ll keep your smoothies cool without you having to add ice (Plus, no more watered-down drinks!).
How Long Do Blueberries Last In The Fridge?
Refrigerated Blueberries can last about 1 to 2 weeks, but this period can vary depending on how you store them. If your fruit has moldy berries, the fresh ones will mold quicker.
So, remember to check for them before placing them in the fridge. It’s also a good idea to only rinse them if necessary.
Otherwise, the moisture can affect their freshness. If you are washing them, ensure that you pat them dry thoroughly.
How To Freeze Blueberries With A Foodsaver?
Sealing Blueberries in an airtight container can extend their freezer life. A great way to seal them is by using a foodsaver.
This handy device removes all air from a bag, creating a vacuum. Not only will it allow the flavor to last much longer, but it’ll also prevent ice build-up.
You’ll also avoid ending up with dehydrated and oxidized food. Foodsavers are easy to operate as they have fully automatic plug-in designs.
Just make sure not to overfill your bags. You need to have enough space for them to seal correctly.
How Do You Store Blueberries Without Getting Mushy?
Moisture is your biggest enemy when it comes to freezing blueberries. That’s why it’s important not to throw wet berries in the freezer.
Ideally, you shouldn’t even be washing them since they come with a protective bloom. It’s best to lay them on a baking sheet and freeze them for 4 hours before putting them in a ziplock bag and removing the air.
However, if you do want to wash them, ensure they are completely dry before they go into the freezer. You may have to pat them several times with a paper towel before you place them in.
Can You Freeze Blueberries In A Mason Jar?
Yes! However, they won’t last as long as they would in vacuum-sealed bags. Since you can’t remove air from mason jars, they will only stay fresh for 3-5 months.
This may be a good option if you enjoy adding blueberries to your meals on a regular basis. When freezing berries or anything else in mason jars, make sure not to overfill.
The contents should remain below the fill line. This is because frozen food expands, and you may not leave enough room for that if you fill them to the top.
Also, ensure that you use straight jars as they are less prone to breakage from expanding than standard jars.
Wrap – Up
You may be wondering: Why should I go through all of this trouble to freeze fresh blueberries when I can just purchase them from my local grocery store already frozen?
Even the most ancient societies knew that blueberries are extraordinarily beneficial to our bodies. The American Indians viewed the fruit as a gift from the “Great Spirits” during a famine so they could feed their children.
For me, there’s just one reason: I’m picky. With a frozen bag of blueberries, I have no idea what those berries looked like (or tasted like) before they were frozen.
When you freeze your own berries, you’re fully in control of the quality of the berry. Delicious berries in, delicious berries out, even eight months later.
Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: jm3